A Justice Site
Women in Islam
CSUDH - Habermas - UWP
California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Soka University Japan, Transcend Art and Peace
Created: November 11, 2001
Latest Update: November 11, 2001
Muslim Distribution in the Middle East
Map of Muslim Distribution in the Middle East
Review and Essay by Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata
Copyright: Jeanne Curran, Susan R. Takata, and Olivier Urbain: November 2001.
and Individual Authors. "Fair Use" encouraged.
At a recent forum on issues relating to Afghanistan, one speaker suggested that US ideals of freedom, or sexual equality, are basically colonial and imperialistic in that we assume that our sense of gender equality, our sense of freedom are "right" and inevitable. The speaker pointed out that women in the Middle East had such freedoms long ago. That position is reiterated by Dr. Lila Fahlman, Founding President of World Council of Muslim Women in her commentary on The Place of Women in Islam:"At the time of the prophet women achieved the highest regard in religious history. They became lawyers, doctors and counsellors not to only women, but to men."
Scroll about two-fifths of the way down the file.
Fundamentalists, such as P. Newton, whom Dr. Fahlman critiques in her comment, re-interpret the scriptures to reflect their own agendas. Because one of their underlying assumptions is that they "know" what is "right" they demand that Others correct their faulty beliefs and attitudes. And here begins the process of domination and exploitation.
We'll discuss this in class next week. Dr. Fahlman's critique and P. Newton's admonitions are linked below:
- At one point in the forum several of us felt the hackles on our necks rise when the young speaker said "The women of Afghanistan don't want to work. That is what American women want. The women of Afghanistan want the security and protection afforded in their homes and by the men of their family." or something to that effect, since this is from recall.
Why would such a statement raise our hackles? What do we really need to bear in mind about the Other in this case?
Consider the prior Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Consider what our speaker continued to tell us, that the well-educated and skilled metropolitan folks left at the time of the Russian occupation, that it was rural, illiterate workers who fled to the cities to find work and food when the countryside was mined and destroyed. Consider how that has altered the demographics of lives in Kabul now. Consider what all this means to the women left behind in Kabul.